Some exercises can make you wonder why on earth you put yourself through them (I’m looking at you, squats of all kinds), and some leave you with a deep sense of accomplishment. Dumbbell letters are definitely in the second category.
Dumbbell fly is a popular exercise in the gym. This is a great move to open up and strengthen your chest, and it looks great when done right. The fly provides a pleasant stretch on the chest as it gives the pectoral muscles a good workout. (For smaller ones, it works on the shoulders and triceps.) It can also help with posture, not only because it opens up the chest but also requires scapular retraction (drawing the shoulder blades back toward the spine). Good posture (opens in new tab) increases in importance as we age because it helps with balance; it also helps us maintain good shape during sports.
How to do a dumbbell fly?
If you’re just starting out, use weights you can lift easily – check Adjustable dumbbells are the best to lift weights at home here. Hold the weight in one hand up by the shoulders and carefully lie on your back on the bench (or use a stability ball, although this is not recommended for beginners, as it is a harder movement when you have to maintain balance). You can also start with dumbbells on the bench, but you have to reposition yourself when picking up. Your feet should be firmly on the floor, on either side of the bench, and your buttocks, back, and head should stay in contact with the bench as you move. If your bench is too high, put your feet on a riser of some kind – the last thing you want is an arch in your lower back.
Extend your arms above your head, but don’t lock them; keep the bend very thin throughout. Your arms should form a right angle with your upper chest and your palms should face each other. When you’re sure your bench position is stable, take a breath and slowly lower your arms to your sides until they’re parallel to your chest and you’ve reached full stretch. You’ll probably find you can drop the weight lower than your shoulders, but that’s not the movement. You may also find that the weight pushes the shoulder roll a little. Avoid this as well.
When you feel your chest full, exhale and return to the starting position, keeping your arms slightly bent and your shoulders back. You don’t need to clang the weight against each other at the top of the move, as cool as it may sound; in fact, if you bring the weight close together you will lose tension in the chest. Start with 10 reps and aim for three sets.
I did 30 dumbbell flyes every day for a week and this happened
I don’t have the kind of incline bench you find at the gym, but I do have a long kitchen bench that is just the right height. On the first day, I used 16lb weights and did three sets of 10 reps. By doing the movement slowly, you can concentrate on working those chest muscles – I felt the sensation of expanding the whole chest, especially near the sternum and the point where the pectoralis major (the largest chest muscle) attaches to the shoulder.
On the second day, I decided to try the movement with a stability ball, using a slightly lighter weight (12lb). This, of course, makes the move more difficult, because you have to consider the position of the body – only the upper back on the ball, and make a straight line from the chest to the knees – and use the core to remain stable. Otherwise, the move is the same, although without a solid surface beneath you, you may be tempted to lower your hands more than is necessary or wise. Remember, it’s all about the chest – and control. Again, I did three sets of 10 reps. If you also want to work your core, hamstrings, and glutes, try this variation, but I wanted to keep my chest focused, so I went back to benching and heavier weights for the rest of the week. After the first two days, the constant sensation in my chest made me realize that I sometimes roll my shoulders and drop them when sitting at the table, which is very often. The effect of exercise has been a reminder to take care of my shoulders and better chest strength will help make this feel natural.
I like this movement, so I really want to hit the bench every morning, which is not always happy with my friend: “Really? At least the towel first.” I added five reps to each set on day three and felt fine, although I noticed I was forced to relax my shoulder blades for the final reps. Always pulled back to get the most out of the move.
For the rest of the week, I maintained the weight and reps, and noticed that I was not feeling the effect across the chest, as I did in the first couple of days. With this sense of ease, I lost concentration several times, which is never a good idea when you’re lifting weights. It’s easy to get into what seems like a perfect rhythm, but you have to focus throughout the move; otherwise, it is likely that you will not get the full benefit and risk injury.
When I type these words, I sit dead directly on the desk, shoulders back, core involved: reason enough to continue with fly chest, although maybe not when the partner is around.